The results are in. The winners of the 2014 Coretta Scott King Medals were announced at the 2014 Youth Media Awards, in addition to four honor books. Given annually to African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults, these titles demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal values. On the ALA website for the award, be sure to click on the Educational Resources link. TeachingBooks.net provides a free Curriculum Resource Center for videos, lesson plans, and other materials useful in libraries and classrooms. Incorporate the following booktalks and tools when sharing these powerful books with young readers.
BEATY, Daniel. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me. illus. by Bryan Collier. Little, Brown. 2013. ISBN 9780316209175. JLG Level: CE : City Elementary (Grades 2–6).
Every morning, I play a game with my father. He goes KNOCK KNOCK on my door, and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to the bed. Then I get up and jump into his arms. “Good morning, Papa.”
One day, the boy’s father stops knocking on his door. Morning after morning the boy waits for the sound. His dad isn’t even home anymore. What will the boy do if there is no one to teach him to how shave or drive a car? Who will teach him to dribble a ball?
Check out the blog of award-winning actor, singer, and writer, Daniel Beaty. Don’t miss his amazing performance in a YouTube video. View examples of illustrator Bryan Collier’s work on his website; Kirkus posted an interview with Collier. From Sesame Street to the Department of Health & Human Resources, resources abound to support children with incarcerated parents. After sharing the title with your students, they may want to help children in need. Read about a community who held a “Pay It Forward Day.” Of course, check out the Angel Tree project is a ministry of the Prison Fellowship, which has been in service since 1976. Check your community for local organizations.
Current recognition includes: 2014 Coretta Scott King Award Winner, Illustrator; ALA 2014 Notable Children’s Books, Middle Readers
GRIMES, Nikki. Words with Wings. Wordsong. 2013. ISBN 9781590789858. JLG Level: A : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3–5).
Gabby is a daydreamer which causes her an endless amount of trouble. She has to be reminded to do her chores until her mother is quite frustrated. Her mind wanders at school, so her grades aren’t as good as they could be. She’s also a loner, and in a new school, it’s even worse. Her teacher has a plan that not only saves her, but it sets her free as well.
As this short novel is written in verse, teachers may want to connect students with other poets. Grimes includes links to poets and other writers on her website. She also highlights tips for budding writers on the path to publication. Read an interview with the author on Poetry4kids.com and be sure to explore the resources for teaching poetry. From podcasts to games and videos, these amazing tools can be found on the Poetry 4 Kids site. You can even translate the website into over 50 languages.
Current recognition includes: Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2013; 2014 Coretta Scott King Award Honor, Author
HILL, Laban, Carrick. When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop. illus. by Theodore Taylor III. Roaring Brook. 2013. ISBN 9781596435407. JLG Level: CE : City Elementary (Grades 2–6).
Little Clive lived in Harlem where he threw big dance parties. His music even made street gangs dance during the breaks. They became known as break dancers. The little Jamaican boy who was once too young to go to parties, grew up to become DJ Kool Herc―the man who would become the founder of hip hop.
Both the author and illustrator provide biographical information on their websites. The Brown Bookshelf, a blog written to “push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers,” features the title in its Best 28 of the best and brightest creators. For a peek inside the book, view the publisher’s book page. Columbia College, Cornell University and PBS offer resources on the history of hip hop.
Current recognition includes: 2014 Coretta Scott King Award/John Steptoe New Talent Winner; ALA 2014 Notable Children’s Books, Middle Readers
MYERS, Walter Dean. Darius & Twig. HarperCollins/Amistad. 2013. ISBN 9780061728242. JLG Level: CH : City High School (Grades 10 & Up).
Best friends Darius and Twig live in Harlem, but have dreams that will take them away from the gangs, abusive uncles, poverty, and crime. Can they break the cycle by going to college to be a writer and running races instead of working the family store?
Former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Myers includes podcasts, videos, and complete bibliography on his website. Get a taste of the novel by reading a bit of chapter one on HarperTeen. Middle school educators can teach writing lessons by Myers and other favorite authors on Scholastic. For bullying resources, visit StopBullying.gov or NEA.org, which also has activities and quizzes.
Current recognition includes: Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2013; Booklist Editor’s Choice: Books for Youth, 2013, Fiction; 2014 Coretta Scott King Award Honor Author; Booklist 2014 Top 10 Books for Youth, Black History; ALA 2014 Notable Children’s Books, Older Readers; YALSA 2014 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
NELSON, Kadir. Nelson Mandela. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan. 2013. ISBN 9780061783760. JLG Level: BE : Biography Elementary (Grades 2-6).
Can one person make a difference? Nelson Mandela became a lawyer in South Africa to help those who couldn’t help themselves. He also wanted to end injustice, winning back his country for all people. The state didn’t want him to speak against apartheid. They wanted him in jail. How could he work toward peace and harmony if he was captured?
Award-winning author, Kadir Nelson previews his work on his website. For lesson plans on Mandela and apartheid visit NY Times, New York City Department of Education or NEA.org for additional resources. The author/illustrator painted a cover for The New Yorker and spoke about his book in a video.
Current recognition includes: Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2013; 2014 Coretta Scott King Award Honor, Illustrator; ALA 2014 Notable Children’s Books, Younger Readers
In an effort to organize these links, I have created a LiveBinder. All websites will be posted within the LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources will be added. Simply go to JLG Booktalks to Go where you will see LiveBinder main tabs. Each tab is a book title. Under each color-coded tab are gray subtabs with links to media, websites, and other related documents. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Please visit JLG’s new LiveBinder, JLG Booktalks to Go.
For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.
Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)